December 24, 2023

One wait is over, another wait is begun

Passage: Isaiah 49:1-12; Luke 2:21-40
Service Type:

Theme: Jesus of Nazareth is the long awaited Christ who brings salvation; do not waver in your commitment to him

Why was Jesus circumcised?
Jesus is circumcised because he was born to Jewish parents and living in the time of the old covenant. It demonstrates his identification with sinful Israel.

What was the purification that they (Joseph and Mary) had to undergo?
The purification in view is that which is mentioned in Leviticus 12. Following childbirth, there is typically a large loss of blood. Since blood is associated with life (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:14), the loss of blood correlates with the loss of life, rendering one unfit to be in the presence of God (who is fullness of life, cf. John 1:3-4). Coming as part of the clean/unclean laws (Leviticus 11-16), the focus is not atoning for sin but dealing with the pollution that comes from living in a fallen world. Though Leviticus 12 refers only to women, reference is made to Mary and Joseph (they) most likely because Joseph helped with the delivery.

Why did Joseph and Mary come to the temple to present Jesus to the LORD?
There is no old covenant law which required parents to present their children to the LORD at the temple. Though the law stipulated that the firstborn male should be ‘redeemed’ from priestly service with the payment of a five shekels (Exodus 13:13; Numbers 18:15-16), this could be done without the child being present. It served as a reminder of God’s deliverance from death, both in Egypt (Exodus 13:11-16) and at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 32:25-29; Numbers 3:40-48). The presentation of Jesus was thus an action that went beyond the requirements of God’s law. It parallels with the presentation of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:22-24, 28) and reflects Mary’s expectations for her child (cf. Luke 1:46-55). She knows that he will be used by God to do great things and so she wants to visibly recognise that he has been set apart for special service.